The law firm of Becker & Poliakoff has an extensive legislative lobbying practice that netted $1 million to $2 million in 2015.
The firm employs 10 registered lobbyists who represent dozens of clients, from hospitals to electric utilities, liquor stores and city governments.
The firm also employs Sarasota state Sen. Greg Steube.
As an attorney, Steube is supposed to look out for the best interests of his firm's clients. As a lawmaker, Steube is supposed to do what's in the best interest of his constituents and the people of Florida.
A Herald-Tribune analysis found at least 42 lawyers serve in the Legislature, 13 in the Senate and 29 in the House.
By cross checking the names of their law firms against the lobbying firms listed in the state's legislative lobbyist directory, the newspaper found at least six lawyer/legislators who work for firms that lobby the Legislature and another — Senate President Joe Negron — who worked at a lobbying firm until last month.
Here's a list of the attorneys who serve in the Legislature and worked at lobbying firms at the start of 2017, including their employers and how much each firm makes from lobbying, according to state records.
Lawmaker/Law firm/legislative lobbyists employed by firm in 2017/firm's 2015 lobbying compensation range
Rep. Richard Corcoran/Broad & Cassel/1/ $200,000 - $400,000
Rep. Chris Sprowls/Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney/13/$1.75 million - $3.5 milion
Rep. Eric Eisnaugle/Rumberger Kirk & Caldwell/1/$0
Rep. Katie Edwards/Arnstein & Lehr LLP/2/$0
Rep. Jose Felix Diaz/Akerman LLP/7/$350,000 - $850,000
Sen. Greg Steube/Becker & Poliakoff/10/$1 million - $2 million
Sen. Joe Negron/Gunster/5/$850,000 - $1.75 million
The Florida Bar once viewed this dual role as an "inescapable" conflict of interest, an ethical conflict so "clear" that the Bar issued a formal ethics opinion effectively prohibiting lawmakers from working at firms that lobby the Legislature.
That ethics opinion was rescinded in 1999 and now at least six Florida lawmakers — including the speaker of the House — work for law firms that lobby the Legislature, according to a Herald-Tribune analysis.